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US to launch Section 232 steel, aluminum tariffs exclusion request portal Thursday

Pittsburgh — The US Department of Commerce on Thursday will roll out an online portal to submit and monitor product-specific exclusion requests to the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

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The "232 Exclusion Portal" will allow individuals and companies to submit exclusion requests, objections to exclusion requests, rebuttals, and surrebuttals and will replace the use of the federal rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov, Commerce said. The new portal is aimed at streamlining the exclusion process while enhancing data integrity and quality controls, it added.

When the Trump administration introduced the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum in March 2018, the federal rulemaking portal was chosen at the time as the best option to host exclusion requests, however, based on the documentation required for these requests, the portal was "not easy to navigate nor fully transparent about where requests were in the process," Commerce said.

The new portal will use web-based forms and allow submitters to easily view all exclusion requests, objection, rebuttal and surrebuttal documents through one, web-based system, according to Commerce. Parties filing on the portal will be required to complete a web-based registration prior to submitting any documents. Additionally, external parties will now be able to track submission deadlines in the same system, Commerce said.

In order to begin the transition, Commerce will begin accepting exclusion requests on the 232 Exclusions Portal on Thursday and will no longer accept exclusion requests on regulations.gov, it said. The last day on which an exclusion request may be initiated through regulations.gov is Wednesday, however, objections, rebuttals, and surrebuttals must always be filed on the system where the exclusion request was submitted so the federal portal will remain active until all of the underlying exclusion requests receive a final decision.

Commerce will be taking comments on the new portal through August 9.

Commerce "is not seeking comments regarding the duties or quantitative limitations themselves or the exclusion and objection process overall," it said. "Specifically, Commerce encourages comments on the 232 Exclusions Portal as to which features are an improvement, as well highlighting any areas of concern or suggestions for improvement."

-- Justine Coyne, justine.coyne@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com